by Simon Daish
Road to Saarbrücken
Kristian Karlsson and Pär Gerell qualified for the 2016 Men’s World Cup through very different circumstances; Karlsson sealed his spot with a fourth place finish at the 2016 ITTF Europe Top 16 event in Gondomar (Portugal), while Gerell was a late addition as a substitute player following the withdrawal of China’s Ma Long in early September.
Neither Kristian Karlsson nor Pär Gerell enter the Men’s World Cup on the back of any major victories following mixed performances at the 2016 Olympic Games, but both players have their sights set firmly on success at the Saarbrücken based tournament.
Second Time Lucky for Karlsson?
While Pär Gerell prepares to make his Men’s World Cup debut, Kristian Karlsson is making his second appearance.
Last year the event was held in Stockholm and Karlsson was able to use the home crowd to his advantage, achieving top spot in his qualifying group with victories over Gao Ning (Singapore) and William Henzell (Australia).
Unfortunately for Karlsson, his quest at the 2015 World Cup was brought to an end at the Round of 16 stage despite a brave effort against Chinese Taipei’s Chuang Chih-Yuan.
Sweden’s Golden Years
Sweden has seen three World Cup winners in the past with Mikael Appelgren, Jan-Ove Waldner and Jörgen Persson having triumphed at what is considered to be one of the biggest Table Tennis tournaments on the world calendar.
Mikael Appelgren was victorious in 1983’s event in Barbados where he saw off fellow compatriot Jan-Ove Waldner, and the latter of the two players won the trophy seven years later beating Ma Wenge (China) in the final of the 1990 Chiba City Men’s World Cup.
The most recent World Cup success for Sweden came the following year in 1991 when Kuala Lumpur played host to a wonderful final between Jörgen Persson and French legend Jean-Philippe Gatien, the outcome of which saw Persson claim the title.
Difficulties Await for Karlsson and Gerell
Occupying world ranking positions of 27th and 39th respectively (September 2016), Kristian Karlsson and Pär Gerell may be considered by some critics as outsiders for a title challenge in Saarbrücken especially with six of the world’s top ten ranked athletes set to compete.
However, with Karlsson and Gerell having registered past wins over some of the higher placed competitors on the 2016 Men’s World Cup player list, there may be reasons for the Swedes to be optimistic about their chances of an upset or two on the big stage.